Catalyst, Leadership

Context as Culture

Lunch today with Darrell Winger, Community Development Pastor at The Meeting House; one of the fastest growing and most intriguing churches in Canada. I blogged about a previous with their Teaching Pastor recently. I wanted to understand more about the uncommon leadership culture they have developed. Darrell (whose role makes him essentially the bishop of the multi-site church) affirmed that there really is no predominant leader in their inner circle. They truly do function as a mutually submissive team, respecting one another’s strengths and roles. A lot of our conversation was about how they bring in new leaders who have established themselves in a more common hierarchical leadership system. Essentially, it is a matter of introducing them to a new culture, not unlike what happens when we travel internationally. Newcomers have to become familiar with both the formal published systems of The Meeting House, but also the subtle nuances of tone, jargon, and relationship that make up the heart of the way things are around here. Some newcomers are able to embrace that change, others can’t. The challenge is to discern which is which before giving someone a leadership role. In Catalyst’s approach to leadership we talk about these as aspects of Context. Someone may be remarkably skilled (Competence) and have high integrity (Character), but be fundamentally unsuited for a role because they don’t, can’t, or won’t adapt to the particulars of the culture. Our hope, through our mentoring and high school leadership programs, is that we can help promising leaders sort through where they can fit in most effectively. It is more an art than a science, and as people progress in life their fit may change. It takes insight and sensitivity to help someone with matters of context.